I never knew my Great Grandpa Byer, because he passed away in 1930, long before I was born. Most of what I know of him comes from my genealogy research, pictures I have found, and the stories I have heard from my mom. The first time I remember hearing about him was when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Corrie. My mother mention that I might want to name her Cornelia, so that it would be after her great great grandpa. I was not willing to go so far as to change the name I had chosen, but the name did attach itself to Corrie anyway, in the form of a nickname…that I loved, by the way.
My research told me that my great grandfather was born in Russia, which very much surprised me, as I thought that part of the family came from Germany. My mother filled in the blanks there, by telling me that in the 1780’s, my 6th great grandfather, who was concerned because of wars in Europe, and wanting to keep his family, and especially his son safe from the increasing German interest in jumping into the war. So, he moved his family to Russia, where my part of the family would live until, my great grandfather’s family immigrated to the United States. He eventually settled in South Dakota, where he married my great grandmother.
Picture documentation, at the point, places my great grandparents on a homestead in Nebraska. During his time in South Dakota and Nebraska, he befriended many of the Indians in the area. He was well respected by them and was invited to their Pow Wow’s. It is at this point in the family history that I came across another picture that made me wonder about its inclusion in the other family pictures. It still seems odd to me, but my mom assures me with her story, that it indeed fits in the family history. The picture is of a group of men in a pool hall. When I asked mom about the picture, she told me that she didn’t know the men in the picture, but the pool hall had belonged to her grandfather. I am still trying to figure out how he went from homesteading to a pool hall owner, but that is what he did. I’m sure that like most career changes, the decision was based on the income possibilities, because the main thing is to be able to support your family. The pool hall is not surprising to me because of what it was, but because of the fact that he had been a homesteader and farmer by trade for so long. Things change, as the needs change, and that is as simple as that. He saw a way to make a living, or even supplement the family income, and he did it. It is an interesting twist to my history.